4 Morning Habits for Gut Health to Start Your Day

WWe know how a good morning routine can set the tone for your day. Journaling, a hot drink, and some quiet time can start your day off on the right foot. Our gut also benefits from our morning habits. What aids digestion in the morning can vary from person to person, but there are key suggestions that can get you on the right track.

Importance of gut health

Gut health is about more than your bathroom habits; it can affect everything from your immune system to your mental health. Your microbiome, which is a bustling community of insects in your digestive system, works hard to break down food and keep you healthy.

Many experts admit that there is still a lot to learn about gut health; though there are some simple morning habits for gut health that you can implement to start your day. On the other hand, an imbalanced gut microbiome can lead to digestive problems, weakened immunity, and a higher incidence of certain diseases.

We spoke to expert dietitians to find out what simple habits you can incorporate first thing in the morning to keep your gut happy and set you up for success.

Morning Habits for Optimal Gut Health

Hydrate before caffeinating

Dani Lebovitz, MS, RDN, a Franklin, Tenn.-based nutrition education expert, says, “The simplest habit that offers the maximum impact for gut health is starting your day with a glass of plain water. Water not only moves nutrients and waste products throughout the body, but also contributes to the gut microbiome. In fact, a 2022 study found that the source of the drink (okay, bottled, tap, and filtered water) can influence the variation as well as the diversity of the gut microbiome.”

If you have a hard time drinking enough water, consider having a reusable water bottle with a straw at your workplace. Having the visual cue for the bottle and easy access to a straw makes a world of difference in how much you end up drinking each day!

We all wake up mildly dehydrated after going without water for 5 to 10 hours, so giving your body a hydration boost is essential, according to Kelsey Kunik, RDN, nutrition consultant for Fin vs Fin. “Staying hydrated helps improve bowel movements, can minimize bloating and gas, and relieves constipation,” she adds.

Drinking water before coffee gives you major bonus points for gut health because caffeine in the morning is a “Goldilocks situation.” It will take some experimentation to find the right dosage for you. “Caffeine may be beneficial for gut health by stimulating digestion,” says Kristin Draayer, MS, RDN. “However, more is not necessarily better. Too much caffeine can irritate the intestinal lining. If your morning coffee is too much, consider low-caffeine alternatives like chai or green tea to support intestinal health without irritation.”

Choose to start your day with a balanced breakfast

Breakfast is still the most important meal of the day, and it’s a great way to jump-start your gut health right from the start. Choose a variety of plants for breakfast that are rich in nutritious fiber for your intestinal bugs. The good gut bugs in your microbiome eat fiber and use it as a fuel source to grow and create more of the good guys.

Kim Kulp, RDN, owner of Gut Health Connection, in the San Francisco Bay Area, shares her top morning habit for gut health: “The best way to improve your gut health is to eat a variety of plant foods. Start your day with a breakfast of oatmeal topped with a mix of fruits, nuts, and seeds. This will feed your gut microbes some of the 30+ weekly plants needed to keep you healthy and happy.”

The fiber in plant foods, also known as prebiotics, nourishes beneficial bacteria in the gut, promoting a healthy gut microbiome, says Jessie Hulsey, RD, an Atlanta-based dietitian. “Having a high-fiber breakfast helps regulate blood sugar levels, reduces the risk of blood sugar spikes, and keeps energy levels stable throughout the morning. This can have a positive impact on overall health and mood, as well as contribute to a healthy gut-brain connection,” she adds.

Stress relief first thing in the morning is good for the gut

If you’ve ever experienced an upset stomach due to nerves, then you’ve experienced the gut-brain connection firsthand. Stress has a direct influence on our gut health and is affected by the vagus nerve that runs from our brain to our digestive tract.

If you pick up your phone first thing in the morning, you may be adding to the stress to start your day.

Caroline Young, MS, RD, LD, RYT owner of Whole Self Nutrition shares her recommendations for a relaxing morning: “Build a mindful moment into your morning routine to help set the stage for a low-stress day ahead, which will help to keep your gut healthy all day. It can include meditation, a short yoga session, journaling, or drinking a cup of tea or water while listening to the birds. I suggest taking a mindful moment before logging into emails and social media.”

On a more logical note, morning stress can interfere with your daily bowel movement. “Secure your potty time,” says Amanda Sauceda, MS, RD. “Most of us have a bowel movement in the morning, and your gut loves a good routine. Feeling stressed and rushing through the morning can throw off that routine. So if we give ourselves adequate time, we’re more likely to poop in the morning and less likely to feel uncomfortable during the day.”

Start your day with a smooth movement

“A simple habit to promote intestinal health to start the day is with physical activity. Whether it’s a simple walk or a weight training session, research shows that movement can help improve gut microbiota diversity and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria,” explains Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD.

If you’re not a morning person, you don’t have to do anything strenuous to reap the health benefits of morning movement. Consider gentle movements like yoga, stretching, or going for a walk to improve your gut health to start your day!

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